But for the majority of IEA riders whose season has come to a close, here are ten things you can do this summer to stay in shape and be prepared when the 2015-2016 IEA season starts back up in the fall:
1. Attend a clinic. There is always more to learn, and getting a different perspective can help you become a more well-rounded rider. Consult your local hunter/jumper or breed association website to find some clinics in your area. If you're able to ride in the clinics, great! If not, you can always audit and learn a ton by watching.
2. Attend a clinic or take a lesson outside of your usual discipline. Trying out a new discipline will not only expand your horizons, but it can also improve your riding in your current discipline. Want to improve your equitation on the flat or horsemanship? Take some dressage lessons! Want to improve your equitation over fences? Head to an eventing clinic! You may even discover a new passion. Several of the western riders on my IHSA team are hunt seat riders who were looking for a new challenge.
3. Lease an IEA horse from your coach. Some IEA mounts don't have as heavy of a workload in the summer when IEA isn't in session. You could ask your coach if you could lease or half-lease an IEA lesson horse during the summer. You might even get a chance to show the horse at some local shows.
4. Visit colleges and tour their riding facilities. Even if you're just a freshman, you can call up a college coach and ask to come for a visit or even take a lesson. Coaches are always looking for new talent. Don't be shy. Call them up and schedule an appointment.
5. Attend a big competition as a spectator. Go see a grand prix, hunter derby, or reining futurity. Youtube is great, but nothing beats the feeling of being there in person. Not only will you get to watch the experts up close, but the adrenaline rush of sitting ringside as the professionals do their thing may inspire you to take your riding up a notch.
6. Watch good riding on youtube. The beauty of the internet is that you can watch multiple events in various disciplines in one sitting. Personally I love eventiontv.com. They put out some great training videos and some pretty funny ones too!
7. Read! There are a ton of good horse books out there. In the summer without school work you will have more time to read for fun. Start with George Morris' Hunter Seat Equitation, and when you're done with that ask your trainer for additional suggestions.
8. Take some time off. You may be a little burned out after the end of a long season. If so, take some time off and give yourself a chance to miss riding. And don't feel guilty about it. Everyone needs a break now and then. Afterwards you'll come back re-energized and ready to work.
9. Ride! It doesn't have to be the super-intense, preparing for the postseason, type riding. Just get in the saddle and go. Take some lessons or spend some time on the trails. If you stay in riding shape during the summer you won't have to worry about getting your strength and coordination back once IEA lessons start back up.
10. Reflect. Spend some time just thinking about all you have accomplished and what your goals are for next year. Then make a plan for reaching those goals. Making it to regionals is a good solid goal, but try to think of some intermediate steps to help you get there. For example, a good goal would be to be able to do 20 minutes of no stirrup work without a break. Work with your coach to set goals that are reasonable and make a plan to get there.
|Beloved IHSA horse Oliver enjoying a nap in the sun|
Amanda Garner is an Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA), Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA), and Georgia Hunter Jumper Association (GHJA) steward, schooling show judge, head coach of the University of North Georgia IHSA Equestrian Team, and owner of Epiphany Farm, LLC in Dahlonega, Georgia. She is also a member of the IEA Board of Directors and the author of "A Parent's Guide to the Interscholastic Equestrian Association."
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